Cnet has a report on how police departments are being inundated with false alarms from Amazon Ring alerts because people have freaked out over the camera footage of innocent activities. In one case someone called to report footage of themselves walking into the door!
I’m reminded of a case that happened nearby just a month ago. In Manhattan Beach (near Los Angeles), police from five cities — and an LA Sheriff’s helicopter — descended on a neighborhood because someone panicked over Ring footage of a food delivery sent to the wrong address. It took them an hour and a half to confirm that there was no crime in progress.
The story basically filled a bingo card:
- IoT doorbell camera (and of course it was Ring)
- Gig/app delivery service
- Upscale neighborhood
- Paranoid reaction to, you know, people
- NextDoor posts quoted in article (because of course they are)
- Massive police over-response
- SMS alerts sent to neighboring cities
It was absurd. Fortunately no one was hurt or arrested, so it remains an absurdity, but between the waste of resources, the increase in fear, and the risk that something could have gone wrong, it fits right in with these other cautionary tales. As Fight for the Future puts it:
Ubiquitous, privately owned surveillance camera networks are NOT going to make our neighborhoods safer. They just make us all paranoid. Soon we’ll be snitching on our neighbors Red Scare style. Enough
To save water in this multi-year drought, California cities, homes, and businesses have stopped watering medians, replaced landscaping with more drought-tolerant plants, cut back on watering lawns just enough that the grass won’t completely die, and switched to reclaimed water for irrigation (often with signs letting you know it’s recycled — partly so that you don’t try to drink it, and partly so that you don’t call the water police on them).
But some places just can’t accept “Brown is the new Green.”
Manhattan Village Mall, it seems, doesn’t want to appear downscale with brittle yellow-brown grass, so they’ve set up their landscape for renovation, giving that lawn a fresh paint job.
I looked up close: it’s powdered green paint.
It’s way too green compared to anything else I’ve seen this summer short of Astroturf, and that includes the office building near work that still over-waters their lawn to the point that it’s sometimes muddy when I walk out there at lunchtime.
It’s also just blue enough to look wrong, though it didn’t quite come through in the photos. There are plenty of plants with slightly blue leaves and stems. But not grass – at least not that’s popular around here.
Oh, wait! I should’ve looked to see if they had some roses!
Lately whenever I take my car in for maintenance, I end up taking the car-free morning away from home as an excuse to walk down to the Manhattan Beach Pier. The last time was right after a Halloween storm, which was gorgeous, but this time it was a gloomy morning, and I took the opportunity to explore a little more.
Modern Beach Town
This mural wasn’t there the last time I walked by, and may not have been there the last time I drove by either. The restaurant is new, and it seems like it would be hard to miss. I like the mix of two cities: the one I was standing in, and its namesake on the other side of the country.
Also: a pirate shipwreck. Yarr!
Believe it or not, this next photo is not a double exposure:
I don’t think I’d ever seen this type of traffic sign up close before. At first I was intrigued by the five-LED pattern used for each pixel, but as I started to line up a photo, I noticed the layered effect reflecting the street and the buildings on the far side.
Late Halloween night, the first rainstorm of the season blew through town. By morning, it had mostly passed over us, but there were enough clouds around to make things look interesting after I dropped off my car for maintenance. With a couple of hours to kill, I walked to downtown Manhattan Beach for breakfast. I kept going all the way to the pier first, and was glad I did — otherwise I would have missed this:
One straggling cloud continued to drop rain on the coast a few miles to the north. A rainbow fragment neatly arced from the cloud down to the El Segundo power plant. (I thought that was kind of ironic.) Continue reading
With a name like that, it had better be!